All praise is due to Allah. We praise Him, and seek His help and ask Him for forgiveness. We seek refuge from the evil of ourselves and from the adverse consequences of our actions. Whomsoever Allah guides, there is no one to misguide him and whomsoever He misguides, there is none to guide him. I testify that there is no deity except Allah and I testify that Muhammed (S) is His servant and messenger.
The arabic word used for this is 'Ikhlass'. What is meant by sincerity in islaam, is to ensure that all of our deeds of worship and other matters are solely for Allah (swt) and to gain His pleasure. Hence, sincerity is a condition for the acceptance of our deeds that are performed in accordance to the sunnah of Prophet (S). The Prophet of Allah Muhammed (S) said: Actions are only by intention, and every man shall only have what he intended. Thus he whose hijra was for the sake of Allah and His Messenger, his hijra was for Allah and His Messenger, and he whose hijra was to achieve some worldly benefit or to take some woman in marriage, his hijra was for that for which he made hijra.(bukhari) This hadith clearly indicates that ones actions are accepted by Allah (swt) only if they are done with the right intention, i.e. truly for the sake of Allah (swt). This brings us to a very important aspect of the religion of islaam - the concept of Sincerity.
The arabic word used for this is 'Ikhlass'. What is meant by sincerity in islaam, is to ensure that all of our deeds of worship and other matters are solely for Allah (swt) and to gain His pleasure. Hence, sincerity is a condition for the acceptance of our deeds that are performed in accordance to the sunnah of Prophet (S). Allah (swt) says in the quran in sura Bayinah 5: And they have been commanded to worship only Allah, being sincere towards Him in their deen and true. Thus we are commanded to perform our religious acts, what compose our religion for us, based on sincerity. This is what Allah has commanded us. This is the foundation of our faith. In one of the statement of prophet (S), He (S) said, Whoever says 'La ilaha ill aalah' will enter paradise. He made a general statement, but he further clarified his statement by saying whoever says 'La ilaha illaalah' sincerely from his heart will enter paradise. Hence, once the true faith has entered your heart, it will never go. You may do wrong, may go astray sometimes but once you have tasted the reality of faith, it causes you to be sincere in all your deeds; and this sincerity will inshAllah, ultimately make you attain paradise. A heart that lacks sincerity is, from an Islamic point of view, the worst of hearts. It is the heart of a hypocrite, or the heart of the enemy of Allah. Dear brothers and sisters in Islam, this sincerity is not an easy thing to achieve. As someone said: It is much harder for the people to purify their intentions than to execute any of their actions In order to be truly sincere, one has to give up the worldly desires, and devote himself to the love of Allah (swt). He has to contemplate on the next world, that is to come and this would leave no place in his heart for the love of this world. Such a person should be devout in his actions, even in eating, drinking and answering the calls of nature. Without that it is very difficult for a person to be really sincere to Allah (swt). Many a times, it so happens that we think that our actions are for Allah (swt), but it reality, they are lacking sincerity. Here is a story of a man who used to stand in the first row for every salat. As the prophet (S) mentioned on one of the hadith that if people knew the reward of standing in the first row and calling the Adhan, they would fight one another to perform these acts. But once it so happened, that this man was late for prayers and had to stand in the second row. He felt embarrassed that people would see him in the second row, and it was then that he realized that the satisfaction he used to get from standing in the first row was from people seeing him in the first row and his sincerity in doing this act was impure. This is just a small example of how our sincerity towards our Lord is unsafe from being impure. It is very important that we realize the gravity of this situation in this world. Because if we don’'t, then on the day of Resurrection, these very deeds of ours ,that we thought to be good will appear as bad deeds. As Allah says in the quran: ‘ And something will come to them from Allah which they had never anticipated, for the evil of their deeds will become apparent to them. (39: 47-48) And also: ‘ Shall We tell you who will lose most in resect of their deeds? Those whose efforts were astray in the life of this world, while they thought that they were doing good works.’ (18: 103-104) Although these ayats are talking about the kuffars, we too must evaluate our actions to make sure they are sincerely for the sake of Allah (swt). Brothers and sisters in Islaam, The Prophet mentioned that, the Sahabah, the best generation of this ummah, were afraid of being insincere and hypocrites. Imam Bukhari mentioned on the authority of Abu Maleeka that he said: ‘ I met thirty of the companions of Muhammed (S), every one of them fears for himself from hypocrisy.’ This was the state of the Sahabah then how about us? Hence, we should check ourselves and be certain that we are doing our best to be sincere to our Lord in whatever we are doing whether it includes the religious acts or the acts which we do not consider as religious per say. In Islam, principles cover everything and concept of sincerity is required in all aspects of our lives. For example, there is no way we can be sincere to Allah and not be sincere to out fellow Muslims. Worshipping Allah sincerely necessitates dealing properly and justly with other Muslims. Now let us look at some examples from the seerah of Prophet(S) and the Sahabah, as to how sincere they were. For example, during the battle of Tabuk when the call for Jihad was made, some people came to the Prophet (S) and wanted to join in the Jihad; however due to lack of sufficient resources, there was no opportunity for them to join in the Jihad. Hence, these people turned away by the Prophet (S). It is described in the quran that they left with tears in their eyes. This was the sincerity of these people, for their deen. They knew that they are dealing with their Lord who was the owner of their lives and wealth, for the ever lasting life in the hereafter. This is why they had no problem in giving their lives for the sake of Allah (swt). Who amongst us would cry because he could not go to Jihad, where his life is in danger twenty four hours a day? When we look at the lives of these people, it tells us where we really stand in terms of our imaan, and informs us of the states of our hearts. Another example is of a desert Arab, who when he became Muslim went to Jihad. When, after the jihad he was offered some booty gained from the war, he replied that he didn't make the oath of allegiance for the booty, but to find an arrow in his heart and to die to achieve Paradise. Brothers and sisters in Islaam, it is due to this very sincerity whatever a believer does, it becomes an act of righteousness. How can we achieve this sincerity? By looking at the life of the Prophet (S) and the Sahabah, and by reflecting on those ayaats and ahadith that remind us of sincerity. For example, those ayaats in which Allah’s attributes of being the All-Seeing, All-Knowing and All-Hearing are mentioned. Whatever we do and whatever intention we perform those deeds with, Allah knows it all. There is nothing that we can hide. One important thing that will make us sincere to Allah is keeping away from pride and arrogance. It is this sin of pride and arrogance that was committed by Iblees, the shaitan. Although he knew Allah better than all of us, he still disobeyed Him due to his arrogance and pride. Pride is the thing that makes us perform deeds, to show off to others rather than for the sake of Allah (swt). We should not only try to avoid this pride in ourselves, but also, if we see it in others we should advise them and inform them about its consequences. Finally brothers and sisters in Islaam, we should seek know -ledge of our religion of Islaam. The more we learn about Allah and His deen, the more closer we will get towards our Lord. We will love Him more, fear Him more, and will hope in Him to forgive our sins and enter us into Paradise.TAKEN WITH THANKS http://www.angelfire.com/hi/shahids/sincerity.html